Audit: Chicago State University a Financial Mess

Jodi S. Cohen, Chicago Tribune, April 13, 2011

For several months last spring, Chicago State University failed to send bills to its students, one of the more than 40 problems uncovered in the latest audit of the public university.

“That is kind of an elemental responsibility, to bill the students for their classes, their tuition costs. For them to not send any bills for students for spring semester, that is a problem,” Auditor General William Holland told the Tribune in an interview Tuesday.

“The person who needs to be held accountable and responsible at this point is the president of the university,” Holland said.

The taxpayer-funded university has a history of financial mismanagement, and the hiring of new president Wayne Watson in 2009 came with the expectation that new leadership would bring a new way of doing business. The most recent financial review, from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010, does not help the university make its case that it has turned a corner, said Sen. Edward Maloney, D-Chicago, chairman of the Senate’s higher education committee.

“There have been changes in administration, there have been changes at the board level, and yet nothing seems to have changed. This is a huge concern,” Maloney said Tuesday, adding that he may call for a special hearing to address the university’s problems. He was unaware of the audit until contacted by the Tribune.

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But the scathing audit portrays the 7,000-student university as a financial mess, with federal grants misspent, lax control over contracts and misuse of purchasing cards. The review revealed 41 problems, up from 13 the prior year.

{snip}

The university didn’t dispute any of the findings in its official response contained in the audit.

“I know on the surface it looks bad for the institution, especially with the history that Chicago State has had. But believe me, this is not all bad,” said Glenn Meeks, the university’s vice president of administration and finance. “It was not until you uncover everything that is there that you are able to see what you are dealing with.”

The audit is the first that covers the period since Watson took over in October 2009. He was “not interested” in speaking to a reporter for this story, according to an outside public relations representative, who referred questions to Meeks. A PR representative later sent comments that she said could be attributed to Watson.

Meeks said the new administration has a “corrective action plan” in place, and already has addressed 85 percent of the problems. The university now has four internal auditors, up from just one, he said. There are new managers of the Jones Convocation Center and in the Office of Grants and Research, including a new position focused on compliance.

The university now electronically tracks purchases and contracts so there is more oversight and less possibility that procedures won’t be followed. The audit found that some vendors began work before contracts were signed, for example.

{snip}

For example, the audit revealed concerns about the university’s handling of a special $614,000 state appropriation for its new pharmacy program. When submitting invoices to the state for reimbursement, officials included unrelated expenses for food, advertising, natural gas supplied to the university and cleaning humidifiers in the library, according to the audit.

“None of these charges had anything to do with the pharmacy program,” the audit states. University officials told auditors they did not have the pharmacy-related expense documents available by the deadline set by the Office of the Comptroller and “swapped other expenditures in order not to lose the appropriated dollars which it could ill afford to lose.” They told auditors that the university did incur and pay expenses that “fully qualified” for the appropriation.

The comptroller’s office reimbursed the university because there was no reason to question that the expenses didn’t qualify, said comptroller spokesman Brad Hahn.

{snip}

Chicago State board chair Gary Rozier said he’s confident in Watson and his team. “We can really rectify the situation with the leadership that we have in place,” he said.

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Holland said the university has suffered from staff turnover. There were three vice presidents for finance during the period covered by the audit.

Meeks blamed the failure to send bills to students last spring semester on a new bursar, the university employee responsible for students’ tuition accounts. Watson hired a bursar in March 2010, and soon after, officials realized bills weren’t being sent.

That person has since been replaced, Meeks said. He said students’ accounts were always available to them online, even though the university failed to send bills on paper or electronically.

“I can understand how that is a little embarrassing for us,” Meeks said.

{snip}

It also found the university had “unnecessary or unreasonable expenses” related to a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development to print textbooks for schoolchildren in Ghana, in western Africa. Prior audits and a Tribune investigation several years ago revealed problems with how the university was spending the funds.

The latest review found the campus spent more than $7,000 on roaming costs for a cellphone and $6,800 to buy “additional airline tickets because the travelers were unaware of the check-in procedures on tickets already purchased.”

{snip}

He asked the public to reserve judgment until next year’s audit. “That will be the greatest test of changes,” Meeks said. “Many of the findings that surfaced in the 2010 audit will go away. They will disappear.”

Demographics and graduation rate of Chicago State University.

WayneWat.jpg

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  • Up to my neck in CA.

    Just keep spending it, money grows on tree’s right? It is made of paper and paper is made from trees. That is their solution to all financial problems, just print more money. How many of these “students” will default on their loans? Anyone want to guess?

  • Jay

    I wonder who the 16% non-black students are.

  • hoosier

    An all black university that fails to send out its billing?

    What incompetence. Absolutely amazing.

    I can just imagine how their tests are worded: “Whut colur wuz Gorge Wasingtons white horse?”

    And if that question, plus 99 similar ones are answered correctly the student is awarded an AA degree and when no one wants to hire him he gets out his sign about racist whites and protests the injustices he faces.

  • Tim in Indiana

    Forget this financial mismanagement. I’m still trying to wrap my head around a 2.5% graduation rate…

  • Anonymous

    As long as money from whites keep coming, who cares. Black genes will not allow blacks to function in a logical rational manner in any kind of society, whether in the black or white world. Wonder how Chinese/black relationships are coming along, as the Chinese do not take any kind of nonsense?

  • Anonymous

    Black colleges and universities are a joke, I should know, I went to one.

  • SKIP

    This school is simply a microcosm of the Federal government, corrupt and black at any and all levels. The number of blacks involved in anything is what determines the level of corruption and incompetence, more blacks=more incompetence. Blacks will also NEVER, EVER resign when caught in these sort of things since blacks have an entirely differenc concept of right and wrong, seems to be the same concept as democrats overall have.

  • Bill R

    Light skinned black with what looks like blue eyes? And his incompetence and corruption is as bad or worse as any black run city, organization, or school? Goes to show….the one drop rule is true. ANY black genes degrade the entire product of black/white coupling.

  • Paul

    Jay wrote at 7:26 PM on April 14:

    I wonder who the 16% non-black students are.

    Most likely White students who are getting full scholarships to add to the “diversity” of the school.

  • Chicago Teacher

    Jay:

    The non-black 16% are either some other non-whites or complete loosers. In fact, one of my white colleauges completed a program there. He also had to take the basic skills test for his teaching license a couple times, which tells me that Chicago State was a perfect school for this gentelman.

    Anyway, although few people here take this school seriously, their degree is as good as one from a real school for a job with the Chicago Public Schools.

  • James N.S.W Australia

    This is an actual university? America has too many universities.

  • Cousin Charlie from TN

    “For example, the audit revealed concerns about the university’s handling of a special $614,000 state appropriation for its new pharmacy program. When submitting invoices to the state for reimbursement, officials included unrelated expenses for food, advertising, natural gas supplied to the university and cleaning humidifiers in the library, according to the audit.”

    Oh DUH, isn’t this called fraud?

    What does the term “University” mean now? I’d rather attend a “Shack o’ Learnin'” than some wastrel like this. No wonder they all drop out of such a place.

  • Lakeview Senior

    Nothing in this article surprises me as I’ve worked with Blacks in this kind of taxpayer funded situation. Once two Black men in charge of a particular fund hadn’t used up the $5 million allocated by the end of the fiscal year for which it was intended, so in order to receive an additional $5 million grant from the Federal government for the coming year, they had to spend the original $5 million in the two weeks remaining in that fiscal year. It is pretty difficult to spend that kind of money in two weeks but I’m sure they pulled it off. Some of the monies spent were for $5,000 worth of KFC dinners for mental health clients, sporting equipment like baseball bats, gloves, etc. These I guess were to be used by the same clients for therapy, maybe. I don’t quite remember but it was Pandemonium in that department. I think they were both fired from their high paying positons but I’d bet their replacements were picked from the same pool of Affirmative Action hires.

  • Jeff

    A graduation rate of 2.5% among the Kings and Queens of days gone by?

    Congratulations is in order for this amazing display of their genius.

    I read where a black male invented the light bulb and Thomas Edison (that thieving white) stole the idea from him.

    This is what they tell your kids and grandkids in the schools today.

    My thought is they couldn’t build a working light bulb TODAY?

  • cpascal

    There was another article on here not long ago about a college cafeteria which was torn apart by rowdy blacks, and a number of people posted that the school should be shut down. Chicago State should also be on the list of schools whicn should be shut down. The six-year graduation rate is only 12.8%, meaning that the overwhelming majority of students who start there will never graduate. The costs for an in-state student living on campus are nearly $20,000 a year, or nearly $80,000 for four years if they stay there that long. Chicago State is costing an enormous amount of money without producing very many scholars to show for it. Also, being a mostly black school in a notoriously dangerous city, one can only imagine what the student life must be like.

  • Anonymous

    Wayne Watson is an egomaniacal buffoon and a black militant. Several years ago, he had billboards erected in the Englewood neighborhood which hailed himself as a community role model. While serving as a college president, he neglected to repair the roof at Kennedy-King College and was rewarded with a promotion to the district-wide office of chancellor of the Chicago City Colleges. He worked to demolish the Kennedy-King campus, which was less than thirty-five years old, and replaced it with a 286 million dollar campus (that was sixty million dollars over budget when completed). When he left the City Colleges of Chicago, his successor, another black, demanded that the institution undergo “reinvention.” Fewer than five percent of the City College students were graduating with two year associates degrees.

    Watson is a political hack of the first water.

  • Anonymous

    I ought to add that Chicago State University has undergone numerous name changes since its inception in 1867. It was original a normal school (a college that educated school teachers). Francis W. Parker, a leading figure in progressive education, once headed the institution. How far the university has fallen since that era.

    The immediate neighborhood near the original school changed from white to black in the Sixties. The campus was eventually relocated a few miles farther South and the student population was still primarily white until the Seventies (President Gerald Ford was a commencement speaker while he was in office). African Americans came to power at the school in the Eighties and it has been an on going scandal ever since.

  • ^^Virgil^^

    It seems as if most blacks do not consider a College Degree as a declaration of their knowledge but rather as a Free Pass into some government job that will pay them just for showing up, (at least most of the time) to warm their office chair and harass the white females?

  • Anonymous

    I go to this school and let me tsay that my program is no less of a joke led by unorginized and incompetent faculty. I just hope that I can get the heck out before the program or school closes. For those looking at CSU – run don’t walk!!!

  • Anonymous

    Looking at details of the demographic link is interesting. 2/3 of freshmen receive Pell Grants, but the median ACT is 19 (roughly a 900 SAT). This is throwing good money after bad.

    Also more than two-thirds of the students are women, and half are what might be called “adult” students who you would think would be more dedicated than younger kids who just want to go party.

    I found it funny that on the university’s home page, there was a picture of a white baseball player (from 3% of students).